Indonesia is such a spread country. You really have to decide which part you want to focus on when you only have two weeks to explore. Toby and I spent half our time in Bali and the other half at Gili Air. This blog post is going to be one of the more messy ones. The reason for that is because relaxation does not need hectic planning, but rather a sense of spontaneity based on your own preferences and instincts. My kind of relaxation is staying at a beautiful place, where I can get around easily, and entertain myself with whatever I feel like in that very moment; whether it is food, drinks, shopping, massage, coffee, romance, beach, ocean, dancing, and so on! In other words, this is not going to be one of my usual two-week itinerary overviews. I’ll present to you what I really enjoyed about my time in Indonesia, and if any of it is your cup of tea, well, then you can just drink it up as your cup is being filled with Indonesian deliciousness.
I’ll be honest with you: I hated the thought of spending this much time in Bali. My picture of Bali was a tourist trap filled with disgusting westerners: Westerners flashing their blood red backs, which they have willingly sacrificed to skin cancer, soaked in vodka just to sterilise their otherwise sober life on Facebook. They justify their amount of drinking with the value for their money. This ‘value’ is of course all in relation to what is seen as the cost of getting a one-way ticket over the toilet back home. “I can get piss drunk: slapping my dick/tits on the restaurant table, licking the face off the waitress, trashing the national song, pouring ice cubes down the neck of co-restaurants eaters, and knowing that it is all okay because I’m on vacation!”. Thank God, I was wrong! My low expectations to this place got kicked hard back up where it belongs; among the shiny stars. Bali has become one of my favourite vacation destinations of all times, and this comes from a person who gags by the thought of being surrounded by tacky tourism. Yes, Bali is in some ways a tourist trap, but what I really like about Bali is that they still haven’t lost touch of their pure Indonesian soul. Unfortunately, when tourism moves in, the natives either change or move out completely… I’m so pleased to be wrong on this when it comes to Bali. Despite the fact that the endless luxurious shopping streets are mainly there for foreigners, with too heavy wallets, you can still experience the playful and flirty side of the culture. What a self-esteem boost! Walking along the fascinating showrooms of high-quality leather (if there is one thing you should go crazy over while you’re in Bali; leather products), opened my eyes for how deep their passion and pride was in sharing their Indonesian handmade treasures with foreigners. “I made this myself, the real Indonesian style, just for you!”. I might be naive, but I genuinely believe that they were enjoying their jobs. There was one guy who told me that he was so happy for tourism, as it not only pays for his dinner, but it has also given him the skill of speaking English, which again has made it possible for him to share his Indonesian love in exchange for foreign love. Living the life is synonymous with fun in Bali. The more social and outgoing you are, the better you are at playing the Indonesian game. Therefore, tourism has only made the Indonesian culture stronger. Cheekiness can be found in every eye glint, and their ways of playing the ocean waves are seductive! This is of course a great example of generalising a massive population, but I guess we all have a childish need of simplifying things… Even my delicious cappuccino (which was probably made by an Aussie) had a flirty Indonesian aftertaste.
To summarise; Bali, and especially Legian and Seminyak, are the areas to experience real pampering of a tired soul on the lookout for a lazy break. If you are easily toxified with jealousness I would recommend you skipping my photos of utterly happy laziness:
Revolver Espresso was, by far, my favourite cafe/brunch place!
I definitely had too much coffee (that’s what happens when Renate is enjoying her life), and the Kopi Luwak coffee was of course a must to try. So what did I think about this super expensive coffee from the Luwak poo? I believe our facial expressions say more than anything else:
The fact that these poor animals are treated so badly just made the taste even more bitter.
Dinner wise, there was a plump ocean to choose from. I really enjoyed my extravagant meal at the Bambu Restaurant, which was definitely a pricier option, but so worth it.
Sisterfields is also a great place for any meals during the day. The coffee AND their macaroons are heaven!
Take advantage of Uber, and also most things are in walking distance. Accommodation wise, you can easily find a place for less than 20 dollars per night. If you are traveling in low-season, don’t book in advance, just meet up on their doors. ‘Hotel Quickly‘ is a great option to find amazing last minute deals.
After repeating our laziness for too many days in Legian and Seminyak, we decided that it was about time to explore more of the Bali island. It was just too easy getting to Ubud from Legian. Just catch the Kura-Kura bus (looks like a turtle), and sit back and relax for 1-2 hours, depending on traffic. It’s ridiculously cheap too at Rp.80 000 (less than 6 USD) per way!
Our main attraction in Ubud was the famous active volcano, Mt Batur. This experience, which we were about to embrace, was very much the opposite of the laid-back meditating mood we had been enjoying the last days: get up at 3 am and hike up to the top of a 1717 meter tall volcano. Was it worth it? Hell yeah! The adrenaline, the view, the sunset, the satisfying pain, the ash surfing, the monkeys; wow. Wow…
However, we were so ready to go back to our lazy mindset as soon as we hit the roots of Mt Batur. Hello again, relaxation! The Putri Bali Spa is an absolute must if you are planning to visit Ubud. They also do pick-ups and drop-offs if needed, free of charge. Toby and I had this amazing green tea/citrus wrap and scrub followed by an indulgent rose bath. Even Toby embraced the luxury (who doesn’t want to sleep among roses!?).
Ubud was full of amazing cafes and restaurants! For my daily cup of gold; Seniman Coffee Shop was always on my list.
The best dinner I had in Ubud was probably from La RaMona Tapas. I’m still dreaming about their Sangria.
Uber should in theory not work here, but in practice there are still occasionally cheeky Uber drivers around that want to make some extra money. If not, unless you live far out, walking is always a great option (be careful after sunset). Toby and I stayed at this really cute hotel, Dudek, which I can really recommend if you are a spoiled brat on a strict budget. In other words, you want the best for the cheapest price! Say you are friends of mine and you will get a nice room for Rp.200 000 per night ;)
This place is famous for its breathtaking diving scenery and this was also the reason for our eagerness to go here. If diving is your thing (or maybe just on the list of things you want to try), and you want to experience this in Gili Air, then I can highly recommend using 3W diving school. Here you will find really cool and super professional people; people that will make you feel safe and relaxed, which is exactly what you need if you feel a bit nervous about the whole ‘mermaid action’. You can read more about my diving experience in my previous blog post. Keep in mind that diving is not a cheap sport, so make sure your do your research in order to have an idea of what the cost of diving covers. I paid about 300 USD for my SSI diving certification. Indonesia in general is a great place to go diving, not only because the ocean in itself is priceless, but also the price is relatively low compared to other paradise diving territories.
Diving is for sure a tiring activity, you will get exhausted by the end of your day (especially if you do 3 days in a row as we did). Therefore, it might be a good way of stretching those precious fins of yours through yoga. H2O yoga classes are really worth a try. I actually dozed off during the last pose (where you lay down at the floor like a dead fish) as the yoga bells were harmonically ringing in tune with the far away sunset prayers.
A perfect ending to a perfect vacation. Bali, I will be back!
Quote Of The Day:
“It’s a good place when all you have is hope and not expectations.”
– Danny Boyle